What prevents the evil

"Verbal herbs" against evil

Many of our medicinal plants today have an interesting past. In the Middle Ages and the Renaissance, most people were convinced of the physical existence of the devil and his "collaborators", the wizards and witches. Accordingly, people were afraid of the power of evil. Therefore one tried to protect oneself against devilish influences and witch magic with certain plants.

Hexening or enchanting people in a harmful way with words or looks was previously referred to as "calling" or "shouting at". Accordingly, certain plants were used as "professional herbs" or "Besreikräuter" in order to defend themselves against evil forces in the past. Because the church explained to the believers at that time that the devil as well as witches and wizards constantly tried to harm people: natural disasters, cattle deaths, diseases, freak births, sterility, impotence, crop failures, famines, unexplained crimes and others. would be the work of evil alone. "Whispers" were therefore often used to make the evil spell ineffective.

Particularly versatile - garlic and valerian!

Because of its strong smell, garlic was a popular herb for warding off evil. Back then, people were convinced that if you carry pieces of garlic with you, evil spirits cannot harm you. Children were given a garlic amulet and sailors always carried it with them in a sack.

Pregnancy and childbirth were particularly vulnerable to evil spells. Therefore, garlic and parsley were placed in a linen bag and fastened under the linen cloth on which the woman was lying. This made her immune to witchcraft. The effect of valerian as a fleabane was its unpleasant smell. With him they burned out the devil and drove out the witches. If the milk on the farm did not want to turn into butter, the farmer's wife braided a wreath of valerian and poured the "bewitched" milk through it. The magic was already ineffective and milk was turned into butter. In some areas, a bundle of valerian was hung from the ceiling with string. If a person walked into the room and the valerian moved, it was definitely a witch or a sorcerer. When the farmer hung tufts of valerian and dost (Origanum vulgare) in the cattle shed, the animals were protected from the evil forces.

Means to drive out the devil

Satan, the originator of all evil, was especially feared by men. That is why many plants had a reputation for repelling the devil. When the incarnate wanted to kidnap a young girl - so the legend goes - she held out the plant Allermann's armor (Allium victorialis) towards the villain. Then the devil hurried away with the words: "All man's armor, you bad herb, you stole my bride from me." The doctor and botanist Adam Lonicerus (1528 - 1586) recommends angelica (Angelica archangelica) in his famous herbal book: "Which Angelicam has / is free from magic / in the food. / But in the potion its power is to expel the poison . / Angelicam carried by itself / is praised against magic / and other devil's ghosts. "

St. John's wort (Hypericum perforatum) was particularly hated by Satan. That is why there were names such as B. Devil Banner or Devil's Flight for this plant. The pharmacist Johann Georg Schmidt (1660 - 1722), who worked in Dresden and Zwickau, is the author of the "Chemnitz Rock Philosophy", first published in 1705. In this collection of superstitious views, Schmidt confirms the anti-demonic effect of St. John's wort: "Sanct St. John's wort is of such great power / to drive out the devil and witches / therefore the devil out of bossiness / this herb pierces leaves with needles." When you look at it, the leaves of St. John's wort appear dotted, as if pierced with needles. This effect is caused by the translucent oil glands contained in the leaves. The anger of the Beelzebub against St. John's wort explains an old Saarland folk tale: The love-hungry devil once persecuted a girl. In her need, the hunted maiden sat on a St. John's wort at the edge of the forest and so Satan could not harm her. The disappointed prince of Hell was furious and therefore punctured the leaves of St. John's wort with pinpricks.

If the cattle were bewitched!

His animals were the farmer's most valuable possession: They provided him with meat, hides and milk, or he could sell them to support himself. If the cattle fell ill, if the cows stopped giving milk, it was a great misfortune. Here only wizards and witches could have their hands in the game. Possession of the expensive miracle root mandrake (Mandragora officinalis) was considered a safe protection against the bewitching of cattle. The same effect was expected from the speedwell (Veronica officinalis). It was widely believed that witches could use their magic powers to milk cows from a distance. To prevent this, people used to make crosses with garlic on doors and windows on St. Andrea's Day (November 30th). Already bewitched animals hit the farmers with rods made of linden branches to make the magic ineffective. The blows also hit the witch.

Protection of the farm, life and health

If you bury the general armor or the blossom of the arum (Arum maculatum) under the threshold of the entrance door, nothing bad will enter the house. The mugwort (Artemisia vulgaris) is said to protect against enchantment and evil forces for a whole year. The Beschreikraut (Berg-Ziest, Stachys recta) was used in children who were "besieged" (bewitched) and also made the "evil eye" ineffective.

Because of its "burning effect" the nettle (Urtica dioica) possessed the power to keep witches and all evil spells away. The ash (Fraxinus excelsior) was often planted near houses because it protected the property from evil spirits. Witches and wizards could not harm anyone who carried ash twigs. In Ireland one is said to have given "bewitched" children and as a means against the evil eye thimble (Digitalis purpurea). A recipe that is sure to lead to poisoning and death more often. And about the Acker-Gauchheil (Anagallis arvensis) the doctor Leonhart Fuchs (1501 - 1561) writes in his famous herbal book: "The ancient / superstitious Germans / Gauchheil called this herb / that they believed / where you hang it at the entrance of the courtyard / that it drives away all kinds of gauch and ghost. "

The heather (Calluna vulgaris) was also a famous remedy against "calling". Those who sought constant protection against witches had a mistberry set in silver and wore it on a chain around their neck. Against "charmed" diseases such as B. cramps, epilepsy (epilepsy), gout and fever, people also used mistletoe (Viscum album). In northern Germany, a juniper bush (Juniperus communis) was placed under the foundation stone when a house was being built. This made the house safe from evil spirits for all time. The wormwood (Artemisia absinthium) not only helps against lovesickness, but also drives away witches and devils.

The small selection of professional and verbal herbs presented here shows how much superstition used to be an integral part of people's everyday life.